Purdy to close 1 of 4 railroad crossings, improve others; Agreement includes improvements at other 3 crossings

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cassville Democrat

The city of Purdy will close one of the four railroad crossings in town in return for improvements on others.

The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad has leased the line through Purdy since 1986 from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Aldermen frequently complain about poor maintenance of railroad property.

City Clerk Debbie Redshaw said the railroad refused to allow the sidewalk on Front Street to extend to Highway C, creating ongoing difficulties for pedestrians and children on bicycles who ride instead in the street.

A previous public meeting with Purdy residents, city officials and railroad representatives about 10 years ago prompted public protests and no consensus over railroad offers.

Mayor Steve Roden announced he contacted railroad officials and received a new offer. In return for closing the crossing at Jefferson Street, the railroad offered to have Hutchens Construction install a concrete crossing at Washington Street, repair the the crossing on Commercial Street and next year install a concrete crossing at Commercial Street. Work would start as early as July.

"I feel it's a good give and take," said Roden. "It's a safety concern."

"We've got four crossings in a mile," said alderman Wayne Rupp. "We'd get two concrete crossings for what we've got now."

No houses face the Jefferson Street crossing, Redshaw said. Roden agreed to secure an agreement in writing. His initial inquiry prompted a letter in return from a railroad attorney. Roden credited the offer to a new person in the contact position.

Aldermen voted unanimously to close the crossing for the terms stated this week. No one proposed a public hearing on the issue.

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